Graduates - why do you run?

It may sound like an overly simplistic question, but seriously. Why do you run?

It was all so nice and easy when we were following the programme, wasn't it? The objective was crystal clear: Being able to complete each of the 27 prescribed runs, so that we could get a shiny little tag and consider ourselves runners. For many of us, the motivator that got us onto this idea was a desire to lose weight.

Now we have lost the weight. Well, not necessarily, and for my case not all of it, but it's definitely better than it was. The objective of completing the 27 runs have been met. Our legs don't hurt *each* time we've been out running. We probably don't even sound like steam engines when we're breathing (okay, *small* steam engines, maybe). So we congratulate each other with the achievement and (hopefully) continue running, building a lovely, healthy future for ourselves where the sun always shines and our legs never hurt (if only we can get one more training run in!).

There's a lovely community of graduates here, and we're good at giving suggestions to each other and to recent grads about how they could/should structure their future running. But suggestions and recommendations only make sense if the suggestion-giver understands the suggestion-receiver's goal.

Some of us decide to aim up for a 10k or a half marathan, or even a full one. Some even put a deadline down by signing up for a specific run. Others decide to aim to carry on with 3 weekly runs at 30 minutes each. Some presumably (although, for some strange reason, I don't think I've come across a single on the forum) decide to go for speed instead of distance and become sprinters.

It sounds cheesy, and to some extent it is. But if you don't know where you want to be, you'll never know when you get there, and you won't even know if you're going in the right direction (yep, "right direction", some of this thinking came during my crappy run yesterday).

I'm happy to go first, now that I've got the keyboard out.

After graduation my goal was to run a half marathon non-stop. It felt tantalisingly almost-impossible but yet just about within reach. The deadline is 19/10, and with the training I have put in, I know that unless I injure myself I have every reason to expect to complete.

Longer term, I want to run a HM in Blackpool in Feb next year in less than two hours, and I want to run a full marathan in October next year in less than 4 hours. I don't think I'll become one of those people who go on to run half marathans every weekend, but I want to join the elusive club and complete at least once.

What are YOUR goals and aspirations?

34 Replies

  • My ultimate long held goal is to do the GNR, or any HM really. I had a ballot place last year but got injured, and for a long time wondered if it just wasn't for me. Since cheering this year and seeing friends run it I have the bit between my teeth again, upping my distance gradually (& slow paced) I will enter the ballot again this coming year and see what happens. I WILL do it one day.

    My answer to the question 'why do you run?' is quite different though, and has changed over the last few years. Mostly it's a fun thing, I love feeling that exhilaration like being a big kid, looking a state but not caring. Sometimes it's been meditative, and solitude, but more recently it's been about social running and making new friends.

  • I have enjoyed your posts about the running club. For me running is still very much a "i go out there on my own and pound some asphalt on my own"-thing. But you make it sounds like there would be a lot of benefits from engaging with the local running club.

  • Yes definitely, have a look around and see what's available in your area. Mine is a more informal/friendly mixed ability group, I'm giving the running club a miss as our local is very professional/results driven and I don't want the pressure, horses for courses though.

  • My original inspiration was health related. I had a little scare with high blood pressure so decided to do something positive about it. My wife was already into running so she was delighted when I took it up too.

    I set myself a target of a sub 30 min final run which I achieved at the Park Run and then took ages to get anywhere near that time again! I was starting to ramp up my distance towards 10k in my training runs during the week, but my main inspiration was not to get trounced every week at the Park Run by the guy with the pushchair. Then disaster struck and my running ground to a very painful zombie shuffle. So my new objectives were to run again (finally acheived today :) ) and pretty much do it all again really but faster.

    Incidentally I achieved my goal regarding the pushchair guy. We bought it off him :) so maybe I can take over his role, at least I will be easier to catch!


  • Oh I do like your sense of humour, Kev. And buying the wheelchair is a good way to control it!

    I'm in awe of your determination.

  • A good post Tomas and a good question. I started running because I have always wanted to and never achieved it before C25k. I keep running because I am constantly amazed that I can actually do it. I love to try and reach my goals. At the moment I am trying to do the 5k at parkrun in less than 30 mins. I also wanted to reduce cholesterol and blood pressure which I achieved and want to maintain. Mostly I think now, I enjoy the social aspect of parkrun and this community for all the support and comments and it keeps me going when otherwise I may have stopped! There is always a comment from someone to make me smile. X :-D

  • Because I still find running hard and I am sure it could be easier (60 seconds is easy now but 5k still isn't). I would LOVE to be able to do even my flat Parkrun in 30 mins (and maybe the hilly one in 32) if I am still running this time next year I will enter a 10k. Occasionally, just occasionally everything comes together, pace, breathing, heart rate, scenery and it is totally exhilarating. Enough reasons ?

  • I run to keep slim and avoid the unsightly middle aged male slob syndrome. Also to keep my cholesterol down and my health in check. I've set goals / times for fun and achieved them all, but the main raison d'etre is to stay healthy. I'm vain as hell and when Mrs Dan called me Mr Podge 18 months ago I decided to make sure those words would never again cross her lips....


  • Vanity. Don't we all suffer to some degree? Well done on having used the vanity to improve yourself. I must admit that although I'd deny it strongly, I am actually also vain enough to love to see the improvements it makes.

  • Interesting question. I have to say I am always a bit puzzled by the number of graduates who say they don't know what to do once they have finished the programme. For me the programme was always a means to an end rather than and end in itself. I wanted to be able to run, and C25k was the route in to achieving that. I really couldn't wait for it to be over so I could just get out and start doing whatever I wanted to.

    My original motivation to start running was to 'get fit' as a middle aged male with the usual bad eating/drinking/sloth habits, after a little health scare. ALong the way that modified slightly into a sor of carpe diem philosophy: wanting to be the best e I could be and make the absolute most of my physical abilities while I still have them.

    The realisation, obvious as it seems, that you can be as fit as you choose to be, came as a bit of a shock to me and made me determined to, if not make up for lost time, certainly not waste any more of it.

    I don't have set goals beyond that. I have some 10ks and a Half marathon looming, and intend to do a full marathon and some obstacle races next year.

    Whatever comes up that looks like fun really.

    And constant embetterment.

  • I feel like you, Mr R. I'm only Wk 8 and have been starting to think about what happens post graduation. For me, I'm the least competitive person I've ever met, except with myself, so I will set myself little goals and just enjoy the running - no races or park runs for me. One goal I need to find is getting somewhere better to run. My village is uninspiring, all the pavements are sloped down towards the road, so I have to actually run IN the road to avoid injury and in the summer I've been going out super early so there's no traffic around. Now it's dark till 7am it's a bit dangerous and annoying because I keep having to get out of the way of cars.

  • A great question. Looking forward to reading other replies!

    I'm running for one reason only - money. Following a couple of Friday G&Ts on an empty stomach (my happy place), my missus once again tried to persuade me to start running. She's a long time runner, club member, all distances to HM etc etc. Anyhow, till that day my usual retort was that I could beat her if I wanted to but I didn't fancy her kind of running at all. Before the excuse of kids I lived a sporty life, football, squash, tennis, badminton, cycling, hiking, the lot. The only sport I never really took to was distance running; at school a distance run for me was 400 metres, never mind the torture of winter cross country. Getting back to the story: This time, my better half changed tack; a wager was mentioned, the goal being to beat her at a parkrun in 2014 and the reward being a considerable amount of money. The combination of the G&Ts and a wager (I love a flutter) proved fatal. Before I knew it, I was walking out of the local running shop with a pair of Brooks under my arm. Fast forward through a winter C25K and dozens of training and parkruns brings me to nearly 1 year later and close to the target. My 5K PB stands at 24:10 and I'm aiming for 22:35. It will be close but finger crossed no injures and I'll make it. Of course, I'm not blind to the health and social benefits-I've dropped a couple of stone and I do enjoy the buzz of the parkrun, but the running itself I don't like at all, if I'm being honest. Post-run satisfaction and the thought of all that wonga is what keeps me going! I'm sure I'll carry on running even if I do win the bet but that's my primary motivation at the moment. And yes, I'm one of the sprinters on the forum, 5K as fast as possible followed by tea and cake. Sometimes I feel a bit of a fraud for having such a mercenary goal given that many of you are here for health and fitness reasons but then again, perhaps I'm setting a good example of how a goal can be achieved given the right motivation. I'll let you decide :-)

  • Love it. Absolutely love it!

  • Ha ha that wouldn't have worked for me - we have a perfect distribution of labour in our house - my husband earns all the money and I look after spending it!

  • lol. Impressive candour, at least. And impressive pace.

    Not sure I quite understand the point of the wager though - if you win money from your wife, where is the net gain? Will she write you a cheque out of the joint bank account that you can pay back in again?

  • Ha! I like to think of it more in terms of wealth redistribution. And I don't take cheques :-)

  • I originally wanted to learn how to run -- because I couldn't!!!

    Then, as I started to achieve things -- I just wanted to do more.

    Now - as a totally non-competitive person, I only want to be able to run "easily". "Easily" meaning - I can run 1k or 5k or 10K or 20K without the thought of doing so frightening me. Actually, running "easily" is quite difficult -- it is easier to run "fast" or just "go for it" (for a short while) than it is to run easily. Running easily is, at first, very tiring :) My object now is to make it not-tiring.

    I believe that it may be a bit of a trap having distance based goals - eg HM or Marathon --- because what do you do after you have achieved that goal?? Chasing PB's - while the commonly accepted thing to do - is an exercise in futility to me :) . In my opinion, it is better to simply "run!" :) - to incorporate the act of running into our daily lives.

  • I have similar feelings Bazza.

    A need to lose weight and an awareness that my health problems, whilst compromising my ability to be active, did not exempt me from all the potential health problems which can result from inactivity. I wanted to be a good role model for my children (one of whom needs parents alive and well for as long as possible), and for my husband who is overweight. I found I couldn't sustain a brisk walk without an unacceptable level of pain and aftereffects. Then I read a horrible statement by a supposed expert on my condition saying we were just kinesiophobic. I believe I have proved him wrong cubed without being reckless (and still not recovered)

    I have a dog, the dog needs to get out and about, I have a car and can quickly get to some of the most lovely places in the UK (IMHO) and running helps me enjoy them. My ultimate ambition is a particular route - not sure how far it is, something like 10k or 10 miles. I gave my brother a lift to the starting point a couple of times and I felt a twinge of envy.

    I don't really fancy doing a race/big communal event, running feels quite a private thing to me.

    Oh and there are now times I go for a run so I can listen to a podcast!

  • I'm not a graduate but, all being well, I will be next week! :)

    My answer is like Bazza's and Google's. I don't have a competitive bone in my body and am not attracted to organised runs etc. I'm not particularly goal-orientated either, and don't get a kick out of beating times / distances / other people!

    I wanted to run because of the associated health benefits, and because I'd heard of people saying saying how much they loved running, and the legendary "runner's high". I've had periods of my life when I've been very active and have always felt better at those times than when I've let other things take over, so I wanted to incorporate an activity into my life that would make me feel good.

    C25K is great for me because it has taught someone who "couldn't run" how to run, and when I'm finished with it, I'll be able to go out for a run whenever I get chance / the mood takes me. Like Rignold was, I'm excited about finishing the program so that I can take my new skill and enjoy it :)

    Since I've discovered that I can run I've enjoyed the endorphins, the scenery and fresh air. I like listening to my own music and podcasts, and am looking forward to doing that with more freedom once I've finished C25K. I also really appreciate the time to myself - I can zone out and concentrate on my running, or I can distract myself with scenery or whatever I'm listening to.

    I'll keep doing things to keep me interested - I quite fancy some of the audiofuel runs or even something daft like the zombie run game! For me, running is all about feeling good :)

  • I can relate to the "zoning out". Wonderful feeling when it happens, although I must admit it happens far more often to me when I go on a hike than when I go on a run. There's still too much effort involved for me in running to successfully let go of it all.

  • Atomic - we are twin souls. I feel exactly the same.

  • I hear you, and to a large extent I agree. A distance or time-based goal leaves you wondering what to do after you have achieved it. Which is where the question comes from. If not to conquer some arbitrary goal, then why?

    If I'm brutally honest, I don't think I like running. Don't get me wrong. I love the sense of achievement, and it feels sooo good to come home and know that I've done something really good for myself. But if I could magically get the same benefits and great satisfaction while laying on the couch drinking red wine, I'd chose the wine.

    I'm by nature lazy. And I'm worried that if I don't chase a goal, then I'll end up thinking of excuses for not getting out there. And soon end up looking and feeling like before the whole thing started. And THAT would be a waste of effort (the already expended effort).

  • You sound like the paper I wrote for my 'Meaning of Life' module at uni!

  • That comment was for Bazza - still not very techno, am I?!

  • I thought the answer to that would always be 42...

  • Yes, but I wouldn't have got a very good mark for writing that!

  • Uni teachers need to grow a sense of humour!

  • What an interesting question and I have loved reading all your replies :)

    I too am not a competitive person, I just love to run on my own down our beautiful country lanes.

    When I was 10 years old I sustained a serious spinal injury which left me unable to run or play or ever do P.E. at school etc. So I grew up overweight and completely oblivious to any form of physical activity as it was just never part of my world. I was very fortunate that as I grew my spinal injuries reduced and by the time I was fully grown the majority of my problems were minimised. However by this time my mind had taught itself that I was fat and unfit and asthmatic to boot.

    Along came my 49th birthday and I started to think about turning 50. I loved the thought of running as it is solitary and peaceful and outdoors so I had a look on the old internet and found the C25K program. I went out at 5:30am three times a week as I didnt want anyone to see me.

    I have now lost over 30lbs, don't give a damn about who sees me, can run for 5k three times a week, am entered for a 7.5K race with my husband in January 2015 as he took up the C25K programme as well... and am looking forwards to it!

    I can honestly say it has changed my life. I am happier, fitter, slimmer and now I run because it has given me all this joy and I love it :)

  • wow, you've done really well. What an uplifting story! :)

  • Good question, because I still don't enjoy much of the actual running :D I was very overweight and unfit when I started and embarrassed to be seen out. It took me 50 runs not 27 to graduate. I still struggle, but I'm still running. I have no ambition whatsoever to run for longer distances than 5k, although I have entered a Run or Dye race and a Poppy race, though these aren't exactly competitive.

    I'm still overweight but I am fitter and more toned, and I have learned to listen to my body when I'm whining that I'm tired and I can't go on. Um... are my legs okay? Yes. Well, am I breathing okay? Yes. Well, if I'm just a bit tired, that's okay, slow down a bit and push on anyway!

    I have learned determination and grit, which I never had before physically. I do this for me - it's a solitary exercise and I use it as 'me' time, to puzzle something out, to clear my head, to run some frustration out or just to list out all the things I need to do that day. I said I don't enjoy the actual running but I like being a runner. I like going for a run and I like having run. I am happier because of running. How good is that?

  • "me" time. Yes, indeed. That definitely also rings a bell for me. And it's time where I just can't focus on work or cooking or gardening or DIY or whatever else seems to fight for time and concentration. There's only room for one thing while running, and that's the running. Thank you! I hadn't thought about it like that, but you're absolutely right.

  • I do find goals useful sometimes but it depends where the goal comes out of... 5K, well yes that's what the programme title says so you do kind of want to feel *able* to run 5K even if it isn't at the end of the programme. I worked up to a 10k goal as part of a long range plan to do the run I mentioned. I remember when I realised I was close to averaging under 10minute k and that did make me put a bit more effort in. I did Speed and Audiofuel's Pyramid 180 - saying "Yeah, right" but got there in the end.

    I've added in other all round fitness goals and I do find RFCs Quests useful for structuring my exercise - getting close to the end can be just the nudge I need to do something I fundamentally want to.

    But then I set goals in my life and again they arise out of things I can do and know benefit me - eg I have a 'books read per year' goal which arose out of noticing that life was good when I was reading X number of books (for whatever reason - could be that I was just getting too busy if I wasn't reading much) I had a fat book I wanted to read -it's a brilliant and enjoyable book but a daunting size and I had to set myself "10 pages minimum a day" to spur me on.

  • I think there is some issue with the definition of 'goal' here to an extent. Entering races and working towards longer distances or improving one's time are not necessarily born of a competitive urge. OF all the people on here who enter 10ks, halfs or full marathons, I doubt there are any who stand any chance of finishing among the front runners or labours under illusion or desire to do so. Running in races, for me, is just a means of having a structured activity to do every once in a while, and perhaps take part in a social activity. I don't have that much experience of it yet, and all my other running is done on my own, which is the way I enjoy it, but the idea f going out and doing a challenging run with (as opposed to against) lots of other people from time to time strikes me as a good thing.

    Similarly, the whole PB/PR speed thing: Almost all my running is at very easy slow pace. Certainly all the running I enjoy. I do intervals and fartlek etc, not particularly to improve my pace, but to improve my running ability. I find it something to be endured rather than enjoyed. Whereas my long runs and my recovery runs I actively enjoy. I do however wear my Garmin on all my runs and look at my data. I am now running much greater distances than before, and my 'easy' pace is improving as well. I still religiously keep to 65-70% of max, based ion my heart rate, but am almost a minute/km quicker than I was a couple of months ago. I am not aiming for a particular speed, or consciously trying to get quicker, but am pleased that I am improving. Certainly if my pace was a minute slower than it was a couple of months ago at the same effort, I would be a bit concerned.

    Ultimately, as with almost all things, what works is king. One man's focus is another man's folly. Regardless what you are are running for, if it is satisfying you, then it's the right thing. I encounter plenty of people who tell me how pointless/stupid/boring/dangerous running is, especially at my age, and, I confess, there was a time when I thought similarly. I now know better.

  • To be completely honest, I really dont know why I run. My initial motivation was to lose weight but that hasnt really happened as running makes me oh so hungry :)

    I guess it is the health benefits I am after but other activites such as long walks and swimming would probably assist that way.

    You really have got me in a pickle now !!!!!!


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